Republican party

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Republican party,

American political party.

Origins and Early Years

The name was first used by Thomas Jefferson's party, later called the Democratic Republican party or, simply, the Democratic partyDemocratic party,
American political party; the oldest continuous political party in the United States. Origins in Jeffersonian Democracy

When political alignments first emerged in George Washington's administration, opposing factions were led by Alexander Hamilton
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. The name reappeared in the 1850s, when the present-day Republican party was founded. At that time the crucial issue of the extension of slavery into the territories split the Democratic party and the Whig partyWhig party,
one of the two major political parties of the United States in the second quarter of the 19th cent. Origins

As a party it did not exist before 1834, but its nucleus was formed in 1824 when the adherents of John Quincy Adams and Henry Clay joined forces
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, and opponents of the Kansas-Nebraska ActKansas-Nebraska Act,
bill that became law on May 30, 1854, by which the U.S. Congress established the territories of Kansas and Nebraska. By 1854 the organization of the vast Platte and Kansas river countries W of Iowa and Missouri was overdue.
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 of 1854 organized the new Republican party. Jackson, Mich., is called the birthplace of the party (July 6, 1854) and Joseph MedillMedill, Joseph
, 1823–99, American journalist, b. near St. John, N.B., Canada. His family moved to a farm near Massillon, Ohio, in 1832. He was admitted to the bar in 1846, but in 1849 abandoned law and with his three brothers bought the Coshocton Whig,
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 is credited with having suggested its name, but these distinctions are also claimed for other places and other men.

By 1855 the new party was well launched in the North. Anti-slavery Whigs such as William SewardSeward, William Henry,
1801–72, American statesman, b. Florida, Orange co., N.Y. Early Career

A graduate (1820) of Union College, he was admitted to the bar in 1822 and established himself as a lawyer in Auburn, N.Y., which he made his lifelong home.
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 and Thurlow WeedWeed, Thurlow
, 1797–1882, American journalist and political leader, b. Cairo, N.Y. After working on various newspapers in W New York, Weed joined the Rochester Telegraph and was influential as a supporter of John Quincy Adams.
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 were dominant in the new grouping, but elements of the Know-Nothing movementKnow-Nothing movement,
in U.S. history. The increasing rate of immigration in the 1840s encouraged nativism. In Eastern cities where Roman Catholic immigrants especially had concentrated and were welcomed by the Democrats, local nativistic societies were formed to combat
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, together with the Free-Soil partyFree-Soil party,
in U.S. history, political party that came into existence in 1847–48 chiefly because of rising opposition to the extension of slavery into any of the territories newly acquired from Mexico.
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, abolitionistsabolitionists,
in U.S. history, particularly in the three decades before the Civil War, members of the movement that agitated for the compulsory emancipation of the slaves.
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, and anti-Nebraska Democrats also supplied strength. The party's national organization was perfected at Pittsburgh in Feb., 1856, and its first presidential candidate, John C. FrémontFrémont, John Charles,
1813–90, American explorer, soldier, and political leader, b. Savannah, Ga. He taught mathematics to U.S. naval cadets, then became an assistant on a surveying expedition (1838–39) between the upper Mississippi River and the Missouri.
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, made a creditable showing against victorious James Buchanan. The party opposed the repeal of the Missouri Compromise and the extension of slavery, denounced the Supreme Court's decision in the Dred Scott CaseDred Scott Case,
argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1856–57. It involved the then bitterly contested issue of the status of slavery in the federal territories. In 1834, Dred Scott, a black slave, personal servant to Dr. John Emerson, a U.S.
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, and favored the admission of Kansas as a free state.

The Civil War and Reconstruction Years

Generally belligerent toward the South, the Republicans were regarded by Southerners with mingled hatred and fear as sectional tension increased. They were successful in the elections of 1858 and passed over their better-known leaders to nominate Abraham LincolnLincoln, Abraham
, 1809–65, 16th President of the United States (1861–65). Early Life

Born on Feb. 12, 1809, in a log cabin in backwoods Hardin co., Ky. (now Larue co.), he grew up on newly broken pioneer farms of the frontier.
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 in 1860. The party platform in 1860 included planks calling for a high protective tariff, free homesteads, and a transcontinental railroad; these were bids for support among Westerners, farmers, and eastern manufacturing interests.

Lincoln's victory over Stephen A. Douglas, John C. Breckinridge, and John Bell was the signal for the secessionsecession,
in political science, formal withdrawal from an association by a group discontented with the actions or decisions of that association. The term is generally used to refer to withdrawal from a political entity; such withdrawal usually occurs when a territory or state
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 of the Southern states, and the Civil WarCivil War,
in U.S. history, conflict (1861–65) between the Northern states (the Union) and the Southern states that seceded from the Union and formed the Confederacy.
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 followed. Union military failures early in the war and conservative opposition to such measures as the Emancipation ProclamationEmancipation Proclamation,
in U.S. history, the executive order abolishing slavery in the Confederate States of America. Desire for Such a Proclamation

In the early part of the Civil War, President Lincoln refrained from issuing an edict freeing the slaves despite
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 caused the party to lose ground in the Congressional elections of 1862. But despite mutterings against his leadership, Lincoln, renominated on the Union (Republican) ticket in 1864, defeated Gen. George B. McClellan.

Although a separate ticket headed by the radical Frémont withdrew before the election in 1864, the cleavage within the party between radicals and moderates widened as the war progressed. Radicals such as Benjamin F. WadeWade, Benjamin Franklin,
1800–1878, U.S. senator from Ohio (1851–69), b. near Springfield, Mass. He moved (1821) to Ohio and studied law. He was successively prosecuting attorney of Ashtabula co.
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, Henry W. DavisDavis, Henry Winter,
1817–65, American political leader, b. Annapolis, Md. He was elected (1854) to the House of Representatives on the Know-Nothing ticket and was twice reelected (1856, 1858) with the aid of the Republican party.
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, Thaddeus StevensStevens, Thaddeus,
1792–1868, U.S. Representative from Pennsylvania (1849–53, 1859–68), b. Danville, Vt. He taught in an academy at York, Pa., studied law, and was admitted to the bar in Maryland.
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, Charles SumnerSumner, Charles,
1811–74, U.S. senator from Massachusetts (1851–74), b. Boston. He attended (1831–33) and was later a lecturer at Harvard law school, was admitted (1834) to the bar, and practiced in Boston. He spent the years 1837 to 1840 in Europe.
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, and Edwin M. StantonStanton, Edwin McMasters,
1814–69, American statesman, b. Steubenville, Ohio. He was admitted to the Ohio bar in 1836 and began to practice law in Cadiz. As his reputation grew, he moved first to Steubenville (1839), then to Pittsburgh (1847), and finally to Washington, D.
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 advocated a punitive policy for the South, while Lincoln and the moderates were inclined to leniency. The division was made complete when, after Lincoln's assassination, his successor, Andrew JohnsonJohnson, Andrew,
1808–75, 17th President of the United States (1865–69), b. Raleigh, N.C. Early Life

His father died when Johnson was 3, and at 14 he was apprenticed to a tailor.
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, adopted a moderate program of ReconstructionReconstruction,
1865–77, in U.S. history, the period of readjustment following the Civil War. At the end of the Civil War, the defeated South was a ruined land. The physical destruction wrought by the invading Union forces was enormous, and the old social and economic
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. Johnson, a Jacksonian Democrat from Tennessee, had been added to the ticket in 1864 to strengthen the idea of a Union party. Ultimately his policies and attempts to implement them antagonized his supporters among the moderate Republicans and paved the way for the triumph of the radicals in the congressional elections of 1866. The height of radical power was reached in 1868 with the impeachment of Johnson, which was defeated by only a one-vote margin.

The nomination of the war hero Ulysses S. GrantGrant, Ulysses Simpson,
1822–85, commander in chief of the Union army in the Civil War and 18th President (1869–77) of the United States, b. Point Pleasant, Ohio. He was originally named Hiram Ulysses Grant.
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 assured Republican success over the Democrats led by Horatio Seymour in the presidential election of 1868. The radicals were supreme under Grant, but their excesses and the open scandals of the administration created a new schism, leading to the formation of the Liberal Republican partyLiberal Republican party,
in U.S. history, organization formed in 1872 by Republicans discontented at the political corruption and the policies of President Grant's first administration. Other disaffected elements were drawn into the party.
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. Its candidate, Horace Greeley, although supported by the Democrats, was not popular enough to defeat Grant in 1872, and corruption became even more widespread.

The election of 1876 indicated that radical Republicanism had lost much of its popular support. The Democratic candidate, Samuel J. Tilden, received a popular plurality of over 250,000 votes, but the disputed electoral votes of Florida, South Carolina, and Louisiana, the only Southern states still under Republican control, were awarded to Rutherford B. HayesHayes, Rutherford Birchard,
1822–93, 19th President of the United States (1877–81), b. Delaware, Ohio, grad. Kenyon College, 1843, and Harvard law school, 1845. He became a moderately successful lawyer in Cincinnati and was made (1858) city solicitor.
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, and the Republican was declared President-elect. With the election, however, Republican domination of the South and radical rule of the party were definitely ended.

The Late Nineteenth Century

In the period that followed, the two parties differed little in their programs. Each party had numerous almost irreconcilable factions, and each avoided taking any real stand on controversial issues, which were generally left to lesser political groups such as the Granger movementGranger movement,
American agrarian movement taking its name from the National Grange of the Patrons of Husbandry, an organization founded in 1867 by Oliver H. Kelley and six associates. Its local units were called granges and its members grangers.
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 and the Greenback partyGreenback party,
in U.S. history, political organization formed in the years 1874–76 to promote currency expansion. The members were principally farmers of the West and the South; stricken by the Panic of 1873, they saw salvation in an inflated currency that would wipe out
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. The Republicans favored a protective tariff and the Democrats a tariff for revenue only, but even this traditional distinction was not rigidly kept. However, the Republican tariff policy was the work of leaders of the new industrial capitalism, whose influence in party councils began to be strongly felt under Grant.

The Republican "old guard," led by Roscoe ConklingConkling, Roscoe,
1829–88, American politician, b. Albany, N.Y. On his admission to the bar in 1850, he was immediately appointed district attorney of Albany. The son of Alfred Conkling, Congressman and federal judge, he became a U.S.
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, while failing to secure a third nomination for Grant in 1880, nevertheless temporarily blocked the presidential aspirations of James G. BlaineBlaine, James Gillespie,
1830–93, American politician, b. West Brownsville, Pa. Early Career

Blaine taught school and studied law before moving (1854) to Maine, where he became an influential newspaper editor.
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. Another ex-Union general, James A. GarfieldGarfield, James Abram,
1831–81, 20th President of the United States (Mar.–Sept., 1881). Born on a frontier farm in Cuyahoga co., Ohio, he spent his early years in poverty. As a youth he worked as farmer, carpenter, and canal boatman.
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, was nominated and was elected over a Democratic general, Winfield S. Hancock. Assassinated shortly after taking office, Garfield was succeeded by Vice President Chester A. ArthurArthur, Chester Alan,
1829–86, 21st President of the United States (1881–85), b. Fairfield, Vt. He studied law and before the Civil War practiced in New York City. In the war he was (1861–63) quartermaster general of New York State.
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In these postwar elections, the party, always supported by the Grand Army of the RepublicGrand Army of the Republic
(GAR), organization established by Civil War veterans of the Union army and navy. Principal figures in the founding of the GAR were John A. Logan and Richard J. Oglesby. The first post was formed (Apr. 6, 1866) at Decatur, Ill.
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, denounced all Democrats as former CopperheadsCopperheads,
in the American Civil War, a reproachful term for those Northerners sympathetic to the South, mostly Democrats outspoken in their opposition to the Lincoln administration. They were especially strong in Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio, where Clement L.
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 and claimed to have alone saved the Union. But "waving the bloody shirt," as this type of propaganda was styled, was not enough to elect Blaine in 1884. The reform wing of the party, led by Carl SchurzSchurz, Carl
, 1829–1906, American political leader, b. Germany. He studied at the Univ. of Bonn and participated in the revolutionary uprisings of 1848–49 in Germany.
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, deserted Blaine for the conservative Democrat Grover Cleveland, who was elected. This defection by the mugwumpsmugwumps
, slang term in U.S. political history for the Republicans who in 1884 deserted their party nominee, James G. Blaine, to vote for the Democratic nominee, Grover Cleveland. Bibliography

See L. W. Peterson, The Day of the Mugwump (1961).
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 illustrated the lack of real issues between the two parties; it was the man and not the party that counted. Benjamin HarrisonHarrison, Benjamin,
1833–1901, 23d President of the United States (1889–93), b. North Bend, Ohio, grad. Miami Univ. (Ohio), 1852; grandson of William Henry Harrison.
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 defeated Cleveland in 1888 but lost to him in 1892. The growing Populist partyPopulist party,
in U.S. history, political party formed primarily to express the agrarian protest of the late 19th cent. In some states the party was known as the People's party.
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, with its radical program, had a peculiar position in those elections, receiving in each section of the country the support of the party not in power.

McKinley through Coolidge

When, in 1896, the Democratic party was captured by the radicals under William Jennings BryanBryan, William Jennings
, 1860–1925, American political leader, b. Salem, Ill. Although the nation consistently rejected him for the presidency, it eventually adopted many of the reforms he urged—the graduated federal income tax, popular election of senators, woman
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, its presidential candidate in 1896, 1900, and 1908, the Republican party became openly the champion of the gold standard and conservative economic doctrines. The conservatives, skillfully guided by national chairman Marcus A. HannaHanna, Marcus Alonzo
(Mark Hanna), 1837–1904, American capitalist and politician, b. New Lisbon (now Lisbon), Ohio. He attended Western Reserve College for a short time, then entered his father's wholesale grocery and commission business at Cleveland in 1858.
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, won with William McKinleyMcKinley, William,
1843–1901, 25th president of the United States (1897–1901), b. Niles, Ohio. He was educated at Poland (Ohio) Seminary and Allegheny College. After service in the Union army in the Civil War, he returned to Ohio and became a lawyer at Canton.
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 in 1896 and 1900, and under such leaders as Nelson W. AldrichAldrich, Nelson Wilmarth,
1841–1915, U.S. Senator from Rhode Island, b. Foster, R.I. He rose in local politics as state assemblyman (1875–76) and U.S. Representative (1879–81) before he served as Senator (1881–1911). Aldrich, after the death of Henry B.
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, Thomas B. ReedReed, Thomas Brackett,
1839–1902, American legislator, b. Portland, Maine. A lawyer, he served in the state assembly (1868–69) and state senate (1870) and became (1870–73) state attorney general before he was elected (1876) as a Republican to the U.S. Congress.
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, Joseph G. CannonCannon, Joseph Gurney,
1836–1926, speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives (1903–11), b. Guilford co., N.C. A lawyer in Illinois, Cannon served as a Republican in Congress from 1873 to 1923, except for the years 1891–93 and 1913–15, when first the
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, Thomas C. PlattPlatt, Thomas Collier,
1833–1910, American legislator and political boss, b. Owego, N.Y. He was president of the Tioga County National Bank and had acquired considerable commercial interests by the time he served in the U.S.
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, and Matthew S. QuayQuay, Matthew Stanley
, 1833–1904, American political leader, b. Dillsburg, Pa. He studied law in Pittsburgh and was admitted (1854) to the bar. He fought in the Civil War, and after the war he rose steadily in Pennsylvania politics until he became boss of the state
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, the party prospered. Theodore RooseveltRoosevelt, Theodore,
1858–1919, 26th President of the United States (1901–9), b. New York City. Early Life and Political Posts

Of a prosperous and distinguished family, Theodore Roosevelt was educated by private tutors and traveled widely.
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, successor to the assassinated McKinley, easily defeated the conservative Democrat Alton B. Parker in 1904, and the vigorous foreign policy of his administration fostered the belief that the Republicans stood for the imperialism represented by the recent Spanish-American War.

Under Roosevelt's Republican successor and friend, William Howard TaftTaft, William Howard,
1857–1930, 27th President of the United States (1909–13) and 10th chief justice of the United States (1921–30), b. Cincinnati. Early Career

After graduating (1878) from Yale, he attended Cincinnati Law School.
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, "dollar diplomacy" flourished, but a new rift appeared in the party. InsurgentsInsurgents,
in U.S. history, the Republican Senators and Representatives who in 1909–10 rose against the Republican standpatters controlling Congress, to oppose the Payne-Aldrich tariff and the dictatorial power of House speaker Joseph G. Cannon.
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 led by Senator Robert M. La FolletteLa Follette, Robert Marion
, 1855–1925, American political leader, U.S. Senator from Wisconsin (1906–25), b. Primrose, Wis. Early Career

Admitted (1880) to the Wisconsin bar, he practiced in Madison, Wis.
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 balked at the party's conservatism and when the regulars renominated Taft in 1912, most of the dissidents withdrew and in the Bull Moose convention chose Roosevelt to lead the new Progressive partyProgressive party,
in U.S. history, the name of three political organizations, active, respectively, in the presidential elections of 1912, 1924, and 1948. Election of 1912
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 ticket. Because of this division, the Democratic candidate, Woodrow Wilson, was elected President and, narrowly reelected in 1916 over Charles Evans HughesHughes, Charles Evans
, 1862–1948, American statesman and jurist, associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (1910–16), U.S. secretary of state (1921–25), and 11th chief justice of the United States (1930–41), b. Glens Falls, N.Y.
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, he served through World War I. The party, however, won the Congressional elections of 1918, and Republican opposition was a large factor in defeating Wilson's peace program. By straddling the issue of the League of NationsLeague of Nations,
former international organization, established by the peace treaties that ended World War I. Like its successor, the United Nations, its purpose was the promotion of international peace and security.
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 and calling for a return to "normalcy," the party easily elected Warren G. HardingHarding, Warren Gamaliel
, 1865–1923, 29th President of the United States (1921–23), b. Blooming Grove (now Corsica), Ohio. After study (1879–82) at Ohio Central College, he moved with his family to Marion, Ohio, where he devoted himself to journalism.
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 in 1920. His administration rivaled Grant's for corruption, but after Harding died in office, his successor, Calvin CoolidgeCoolidge, Calvin,
1872–1933, 30th President of the United States (1923–29), b. Plymouth, Vt. John Calvin Coolidge was a graduate of Amherst College and was admitted to the bar in 1897. He practiced (1897–1919) law in Northampton, Mass.
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, was returned over John W. Davis and La Follette.

Depression and World War II

The Republican victory with Herbert C. HooverHoover, Herbert Clark,
1874–1964, 31st President of the United States (1929–33), b. West Branch, Iowa. Wartime Relief Efforts

After graduating (1895) from Stanford, he worked as a mining engineer in many parts of the world.
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 in 1928 marked the first time since the end of Reconstruction that the party had carried states of the old Confederacy; this came about chiefly because the Democratic candidate, Alfred E. Smith, was a Roman Catholic and an opponent of prohibition. Hoover and the Republicans were blamed for the disastrous economic depression that soon enveloped the country, and the Democrats, under Franklin Delano Roosevelt, were swept into office in 1932. The frustrated Republicans were never able to break the remarkable hold of Roosevelt and the New Deal on the electorate and regularly went down to defeat every four years, with Alfred M. LandonLandon, Alfred Mossman,
1887–1987, U.S. politician, b. West Middlesex, Pa. He was a banker and oil operator before he ran for public office. Landon served (1933–37) as governor of Kansas and gained a national reputation by his economic administration.
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 (1936), Wendell WillkieWillkie, Wendell Lewis,
1892–1944, American industrialist and political leader, b. Elwood, Ind. After graduating from Indiana Univ. law school (1916), he practiced law in Ohio and then New York (1923–33) before he became president (1933) of the Commonwealth and
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 (1940), and Thomas E. DeweyDewey, Thomas Edmund,
1902–71, American political figure, governor (1943–55) of New York, b. Owosso, Mich. Admitted (1925) to the bar, Dewey practiced law and in 1931 became chief assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.
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Isolationists held the upper hand in the party before World War II, and in 1940 two Republicans, Henry L. StimsonStimson, Henry Lewis,
1867–1950, American statesman, b. New York City. A graduate of Yale and of Harvard, he became associated with Elihu Root in law practice in New York City. Stimson was (1906–9) U.S.
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 and Frank KnoxKnox, Frank
(William Franklin Knox), 1874–1944, U.S. Secretary of the Navy (1940–44), b. Boston. He joined the Rough Riders in the Spanish-American War and also served in World War I.
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, were virtually read out of the party for accepting posts in Roosevelt's cabinet. But the party supported the nation's war effort and after the war, led by Senator Arthur H. VandenbergVandenberg, Arthur Hendrick,
1884–1951, American politician, b. Grand Rapids, Mich. He was editor and publisher of the Grand Rapids Herald from 1906 to 1928, when he was appointed to fill a U.S. Senate vacancy. He won election to the seat in the same year.
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, joined the Democratic administration in a bipartisan foreign policy. In 1948 the Republican party was supremely confident of defeating Roosevelt's successor, Harry S. Truman. However, Dewey, the party's first unsuccessful candidate ever to be renominated, was defeated by a close margin.

Eisenhower and Nixon

In 1952, the more liberal element among the Republicans was able to deny the conservatives' choice, Robert A. TaftTaft, Robert Alphonso,
1889–1953, American politician, b. Cincinnati, Ohio; son of William Howard Taft. He practiced law in Ohio and served (1921–26, 1931–32) in the state legislature. Elected to the U.S.
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, choosing instead the popular war hero, Gen. Dwight D. EisenhowerEisenhower, Dwight David
, 1890–1969, American general and 34th President of the United States, b. Denison, Tex.; his nickname was "Ike." Early Career

When he was two years old, his family moved to Abilene, Kans., where he was reared.
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 as their presidential nominee. Campaigning against the domestic policy of the Truman administration and its prosecution of the war in Korea, Eisenhower swept to a landslide victory over the Democratic candidate, Adlai E. StevensonStevenson, Adlai Ewing,
1900–1965, American statesman, b. Los Angeles; grandson of Adlai Ewing Stevenson (1835–1914). A graduate (1922) of Princeton, he received his law degree from Northwestern Univ., was admitted (1926) to the bar, and practiced law in Chicago.
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. The domestic program of the Eisenhower adminstration was moderately conservative, and in foreign policy the internationalist approach of the previous Democratic administration was continued. Despite the President's overwhelming personal popularity and his landslide reelection over Stevenson in 1956, a feat that included carrying several Southern states for the second consecutive time, the Democrats retained control of Congress through the 1960 elections.

In 1960, an incumbent Vice President, Richard M. NixonNixon, Richard Milhous,
1913–94, 37th President of the United States (1969–74), b. Yorba Linda, Calif. Political Career to 1968

A graduate of Whittier College and Duke law school, he practiced law in Whittier, Calif.
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 was nominated for president for the first time since 1836. Although the Republican party had become a minority in registration, Nixon failed by fewer than 200,000 votes to defeat John F. Kennedy. In 1964 the conservative wing of the party engineered the nomination of Senator Barry GoldwaterGoldwater, Barry Morris,
1909–98, U.S. senator (1953–65, 1969–87), b. Phoenix, Ariz. He studied at the Univ. of Arizona, but left in 1929 to enter his family's department-store business.
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, who was, however, defeated in a landslide by Lyndon B. Johnson. In 1968 the party rebounded and won a narrow victory with party stalwart Richard Nixon over Democratic candidate Hubert Humphrey, who was handicapped by disaffection over the Vietnam War. In 1972, President Nixon was triumphantly reelected, defeating George McGovern on a record of favoring a strong defense with a limited détente with the Soviet Union and China, and a conservative domestic program featuring a decentralization of political power.

The party, however, suffered a series of massive setbacks with the resignation of Vice President Spiro AgnewAgnew, Spiro Theodore
, 1918–96, 39th Vice President of the United States (1969–73), b. Baltimore. Admitted to the bar in 1949, he entered politics as a Republican and was elected (1961) chief executive of Baltimore co.
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 upon his conviction for tax evasion and revelations of major White House involvement in the Watergate affairWatergate affair,
in U.S. history, series of scandals involving the administration of President Richard M. Nixon; more specifically, the burglarizing of the Democratic party national headquarters in the Watergate apartment complex in Washington, D.C.
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, which led finally to the resignation of President Nixon. Nixon's successor, Gerald R. FordFord, Gerald Rudolph,
1913–2006, 38th president of the United States (1974–77), b. Omaha, Nebr. He was originally named Leslie Lynch King, Jr., but his parents were divorced when he was two, and when his mother remarried he assumed the name of his stepfather.
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, attempted to disassociate the party from the scandals, but Watergate appeared to be a major factor in the substantial Republican losses in the 1974 elections and in the subsequent defeat of Ford by the Democrat Jimmy CarterCarter, Jimmy
(James Earl Carter, Jr.), 1924–, 39th President of the United States (1977–81), b. Plains, Ga, grad. Annapolis, 1946.

Carter served in the navy, where he worked with Admiral Hyman G. Rickover in developing the nuclear submarine program.
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The Reagan-Bush Years to the Present

In 1980, the conservative Ronald ReaganReagan, Ronald Wilson
, 1911–2004, 40th president of the United States (1981–89), b. Tampico, Ill. In 1932, after graduation from Eureka College, he became a radio announcer and sportscaster.
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, a former supporter of Barry Goldwater, regained the presidency for the Republicans and reversed long-standing political trends by instituting a supply-side economic program of budget and tax cuts. He also advocated increased military spending and presided over the largest military buildup during peacetime in American history. The Iran-contra affairIran-contra affair,
in U.S. history, secret arrangement in the 1980s to provide funds to the Nicaraguan contra rebels from profits gained by selling arms to Iran. The Iran-contra affair was the product of two separate initiatives during the administration of President Ronald
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, which broke in late 1986, marred the last years of his tenure, though his vice president, George H. W. BushBush, George Herbert Walker,
1924–2018, 41st President of the United States (1989–93), b. Milton, Mass., B.A., Yale Univ., 1948. Career in Business and Government
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, was nonetheless able to defeat the Democratic nominee, Michael DukakisDukakis, Michael Stanley
, 1933–, American political leader, b. Brookline, Mass. He was a Democratic member of the Massachusetts house of representatives (1963–70) and was twice elected governor of Massachusetts (1975–79; 1983–91).
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, in the 1988 election. The Reagan years were marked by the increasing influence of social conservatives in the party, a trend that continued into the 21st cent., and Reagan's presidency remained a touchstone for Republican conservatives in subsequent decades.

Bush was generally recognized as strong on foreign policy. He was widely lauded for his role in orchestrating the coalition of forces against Iraq in the Persian Gulf WarPersian Gulf Wars,
two conflicts involving Iraq and U.S.-led coalitions in the late 20th and early 21st cent.

The First Persian Gulf War, also known as the Gulf War, Jan.–Feb.
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. He also largely continued Reagan's policy toward the Soviet Union. On the domestic side, however, Bush's administration was perceived as being slow to respond to such problems as stagnant economic growth, rising unemployment, and the unaffordability of health care for many Americans. Bush's high popularity after the Persian Gulf War dropped rapidly, and he lost the 1992 presidential election to the Democrat, Arkansas's Gov. Bill ClintonClinton, Bill
(William Jefferson Clinton), 1946–, 42d President of the United States (1993–2001), b. Hope, Ark. His father died before he was born, and he was originally named William Jefferson Blythe 4th, but after his mother remarried, he assumed the surname of his
..... Click the link for more information.

In the 1994 congressional and state elections, however, the Republican party scored major victories and increased its hold in the South. Republicans unseated long-time Democratic incumbents, winning control of both houses of Congress (for the first time since the 1950s) and claiming several governorships. Newt GingrichGingrich, Newt
(Newton Leroy Gingrich) , 1943–, U.S. congressman, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives (1995–98), b. Harrisburg, Pa., as Newton Leroy McPherson.
..... Click the link for more information.
, who spearheaded the Republicans' congressional election campaign with his conservative "Contract with America" program, became speaker of the House. While bills were passed on the key program components, many items were thwarted or defeated in Congress or by the president.

The 1996 elections saw incumbents generally retain their offices. Former Senate majority leader Bob DoleDole, Bob
(Robert Joseph Dole), 1923–, American political leader, b. Russell, Kan.; husband of Elizabeth Hanford Dole. While serving in World War II, he was seriously wounded and required several years of convalescence. After obtaining his law degree from Washburn Univ.
..... Click the link for more information.
 won the Republican nomination for the presidency, but he and his running mate, Jack KempKemp, Jack French,
1935–2009, American politician and government official, b. Los Angeles. He played football while at Occidental College (grad. 1957) and was a professional quarterback for 13 seasons (1957–69), primarily with the San Diego Chargers and the Buffalo
..... Click the link for more information.
, were never able to reduce significantly President Clinton's substantial lead. In the House and Senate, Republicans retained their majorities, slightly diminished in the former and slightly increased in the latter. The 1998 mid-term elections saw the Republican margin in the House reduced, despite expectations that they would benefit from the effects of the Lewinsky scandalLewinsky scandal
, sensation that enveloped the presidency of Bill Clinton in 1998–99, leading to his impeachment by the U.S. House of Representatives and acquittal by the Senate.
..... Click the link for more information.
; the results led to Gingrich's resignation from office.

In the 2000 elections, the party's presidential nominee, George W. BushBush, George Walker,
1946–, 43d President of the United States (2001–9), b. New Haven, Conn. The eldest son of President George H. W. Bush, he was was raised in Texas and, like his father, attended Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass., and Yale, graduating in 1968.
..... Click the link for more information.
 appeared generally to lead in the polls in what ultimately became a popular-vote loss to Democrat Al GoreGore, Albert Arnold, Jr.,
1948–, Vice President of the United States (1993–2001), b. Washington, D.C., grad. Harvard, 1969. After serving in the army in Vietnam and working as a reporter, he was elected (1976) to the U.S.
..... Click the link for more information.
. Despite not winning the popular vote. Bush secured the presidency with a victory in the electoral collegeelectoral college,
in U.S. government, the body of electors that chooses the president and vice president. The Constitution, in Article 2, Section 1, provides: "Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the
..... Click the link for more information.
 when he won Florida by an extremely narrow margin and outlasted Gore's unsuccessful court challenge of the Florida vote-counting process. The party did not fair as well in other races for national office, and the Democrats made gains in Congress, although the Republicans retained control there.

The party lost control of the Senate as a result of a defection in mid-2001, but regained it after the Nov., 2002, elections. In 2004, Bush was renominated without opposition, and he subsequently soundly defeated the Democratic nominee, John KerryKerry, John Forbes,
1943–, U.S. politician, b. Denver, grad. Yale, 1966, Boston College law school, 1976. A decorated navy veteran who served two tours in Vietnam after graduating from Yale, Kerry won national notice as an outspoken opponent of the war when he returned
..... Click the link for more information.
. The Republicans also increased their majorities in both houses of Congress, as retiring Senate Democrats from the South were replaced by Republicans. Public discontent with congressional scandals and the war in Iraq led to reversals in the congressional elections of 2006, however, and the party lost control of both houses of Congress, albeit narrowly in the Senate.

Those losses were amplified in 2008 when Democrat Barack ObamaObama, Barack
(Barack Hussein Obama 2d), , 1961–, 44th president of the United States (2009–17), b. Honolulu, grad. Columbia (B.A. 1983), Harvard Law School (J.D. 1991).
..... Click the link for more information.
, aided by a national economic crisis, defeated Republican presidential hopeful John McCainMcCain, John Sidney, 3d,
1936–2018, U.S. politician, b. Panama Canal Zone. A much decorated navy veteran, he was born into a career naval family and attended the U.S. Naval Academy, graduating in 1958.
..... Click the link for more information.
 and led the Democrats to their largest national victory since 1976. Continuing economic uncertainty and a lackluster recovery led to significant Republican gains in the 2010 midterm elections that reversed many previous Democrat gains. The party won control of the House of Representative as well as additional U.S. Senate seats and governorships. At the same time, however, the rise of the conservative movement known as the Tea PartyTea Party,
in the early 21st cent., U.S. political movement that arose in reaction to the economic crisis of 2008 and the government rescue and aid measures for the financial, automobile, and other industries as well as broader stimulus measures enacted in 2008 and 2009.
..... Click the link for more information.
, which had a significant influence on many Republican primary races and contributed subsequently to many general election victories, led to some tensions and splits with the party.

In the 2012 elections the Republican presidential and vice-presidential candidates, Mitt RomneyRomney, Mitt
(Willard Mitt Romney) , 1947–, American politician and business executive, b. Detroit, Mich., grad. Brigham Young Univ. (B.A., 1971), Harvard (M.B.A., 1975, J.D., 1975). Son of George W. Romney, he worked for Bain and Co.
..... Click the link for more information.
 and running mate Paul RyanRyan, Paul Davis,
1972–, U.S. politician, b. Janesville, Wis., grad. Miami Univ. (B.S. 1992), Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives (2015–19). A politically active, conservative Republican, he was influenced by the economic theories of Hayek and Friedman and
..... Click the link for more information.
, lost to incumbents Obama and Biden, although more narrowly than the national ticket did in 2008. In other elections, Republicans retained control of the House but lost seats in the Senate and did not make significant gains at the state level, but the 2014 midterm elections resulted in the party winning control of the Senate and making gains in the House and at the state level.

Businessman Donald TrumpTrump, Donald John,
1946–, 45th President of the United States (2017–21), b. New York City. Prior to his election as president in 2016, he was a business executive and television personality rather than a political leader. After attending Fordham Univ.
..... Click the link for more information.
 became the party's presidential candidate in 2016 after a contentious primary season that threatened to divide the party and, with Mike PencePence, Mike
(Michael Richard Pence), 1959–, Vice President of the United States (2017–21), b. Columbus, Ind., grad. Hanover College, 1981, Indiana Univ. law school, 1986. A Republican, he twice ran unsuccessfully for the U.S.
..... Click the link for more information.
 as his running mate, subsequently won an often personal, socially divisive campaign against Hillary ClintonClinton, Hillary Rodham
, 1947–, U.S. senator and secretary of state, wife of President Bill Clinton, b. Chicago, grad. Wellesley College (B.A. 1969), Yale Law School (LL.B., 1973). After law school she served on the House panel that investigated the Watergate affair.
..... Click the link for more information.
 and Tim KaineKaine, Tim
(Timothy Michael Kaine), 1958–, U.S. politician, b. St. Paul, Minn., B.A. Univ. of Missouri, 1979, J.D. Harvard, 1983. After a clerkship, he was a lawyer in private practice, and taught legal ethics as an adjunct professor (1988–94) at the Univ.
..... Click the link for more information.
, though the ticket failed to win the popular vote. The party retained control of Congress but lost seats in both houses. By mid-2018, Trump's influence with rank-and-file party members had transformed what had remained, in broad terms, the party of Reagan into his own, and he campaigned actively in the 2018 elections; the party retained control of the Senate but lost control of the House. In 2020, Democrats Joe BidenBiden, Joseph Robinette, Jr.
, 1942–, 46th President of the United States (2021–), b. Scranton, Pa. A lawyer and Democrat, he was elected to the U.S. Senate from Delaware, where his family had moved when he was young, in 1972, and was reelected six times, retiring in
..... Click the link for more information.
 and Kamala HarrisHarris, Kamala Devi
, 1964–, Vice President of the United States (2021–), b. Oakland, Calif., B.A. Howard Univ., 1986, J.D. Univ. of California, Hastings, 1989.
..... Click the link for more information.
 opposed Trump and Pence, and easily won the popular vote while more narrowly a few of the states essential to electoral vote victory; Trump claimed fraud with scant evidence and mounted challenges in several state courts. Other national and state Republican candidates generally held their own.


See H. L. Trefousse, The Radical Republicans (1968); E. Foner, Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men (1970); F. L. Burdette, The Republican Party (2d ed. 1972); E. Lindop, All about Republicans (1985); W. Gienapp, The Origins of the Republican Party, 1852–56 (1988); F. Schwengel, The Republican Party (1988); L. L. Gould, Grand Old Party: A History of the Republicans (2003); G. Kabaservice, Rule and Ruin: The Downfall of Moderation and the Destruction of the Republican Party (2012).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Republican Party


(US), one of the two main parties of the monopolistic bourgeoisie in the USA. (The other is the Democratic Party.) Founded in 1854, the Republican Party was the outgrowth of a coalition of the industrial commercial bourgeoisie of the Northeastern states and other social strata, which advocated the elimination of the political power of the slave-holding oligarchy in the South.

The struggle between the Republican Party and the Democratic Party reflected the antagonistic contradictions between capitalism, which was developing in the North, and the slave-holding system in the South. The victory of A. Lincoln, the Republican candidate, in the presidential election of 1860 led to the secession of the slaveholding states and the beginning of the Civil War (1861–65), which ended in the defeat of the slaveholders. With the change in the disposition of political forces after the Civil War and Reconstruction, the Republican Party, like the Democratic Party, gradually became the representative of the big capitalists and lost its progressive character.

The Republican Party was in power from 1861 to 1885 (Presidents A. Lincoln, A. Johnson, U. Grant, R. B. Hayes, J. Garfield, and C. A. Arthur), from 1889 to 1893 (President B. Harrison), from 1897 to 1913 (Presidents W. McKinley, T. Roosevelt, and W. H. Taft), from 1921 to 1933 (Presidents W. Harding, C. Coolidge, and H. Hoover), from 1953 to 1961 (President D. D. Eisenhower), and from 1969 to 1977 (Presidents R. Nixon and G. Ford).

The Republican Party’s social base consists of circles of the big financial bourgeoisie, which gravitate toward it, and a portion of the middle bourgeoisie and farmers. The Republican Party is most influential in the Northeast, the Midwest, and the West. After World War II it gained influence in the southern states. In the early 1970’s, as the world balance of forces changed in favor of socialism, the party’s leadership took a realistic approach to Soviet-American relations, making it possible to implement several measures to improve relations between the USA and the USSR.

The Republican Party consists of several political groupings of different orientations—a liberal, a “centrist,” and a conservative wing. The party does not have a permanent membership, platform, or rules. The fundamental party document, the party platform, which outlines the party’s political beliefs, is adopted by the national convention before every presidential election. The party’s presidential and vice-presidential candidates are chosen at the national convention. The National Committee coordinates the party’s current activities. Party factions in both houses of Congress also play a significant role in party affairs. The leader of the party is the president, or, if the party is out of power, the candidate for that office in the last election. The headquarters of the National Committee is in Washington, D.C.


Engels, F. “Vvedenie k rabote K. Marksa ‘Grazhdanskaia voina vo Frantsii.’” In K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 22, pp. 199–200.
Lenin, V. I. “Itogi i znachenie prezidentskikh vyborov v Amerike.” In Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 22.
Goodman, W. The Two-party System in the United States, 2nd ed. New York, 1960.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Republican Party

U.S. political party, generally espousing a conservative platform. [Am. Hist.: Jameson, 424]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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